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How the Enigmatic Ensatina Sheds Light on “Species”

Ensatina (Joe DiDonato)

On a misty day during a walk through Muir Woods, I saw a small brown and orange salamander.  It was a brief look, and I am a poor herpetologist, but I suspect it was an Ensatina—or Ensatina eschsholtzii to those with a systematics bent—that occurs in habitats from coniferous forests... more >>


June 2013 | Leave a comment

What Is a Species?

Song Sparrow

On a recent birding trip to Point Reyes, we ran across dozens of song sparrows—small, brown and white birds with a penchant for singing on the tops of bushes and fences. My friend, a decently experienced bird watcher, had trouble identifying them. When told they were song sparrows she said,... more >>


May 2013 | Leave a comment

Let’s Get Together: Mixed Species Flocks

Downy woodpecker

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is a species known to participate in inter-species collaboration. The downy woodpecker occupies a large range throughout North America, and, according to the Sequoia Audubon Society, it has been sighted at Mori Point here in the Golden Gate... more >>


February 2013 | Leave a comment

Who Says We Don’t Have Seasons?

Milagra Ridge (Mason Cummings)

Maybe you grew up in Southern California and wonder if you’ve ever truly experienced “autumn.” Palm tree fronds don’t change colors, after all. The truth is that there is a lot more to seasonal change than a palette shift. And although we may not have a white holiday approaching, there... more >>


January 2013 | 1 Comments | Leave a comment

When Day Fades Away, Bats Come Out to Play

Little Brown Bat

Little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus, which in Greek means “mouse ear” and “light fleeing”) inhabit Canada, Mexico, and the United States. They prefer forested areas, but can easily adapt to tall shrub and urban environments. They are extremely temperature tolerant and can survive cold 40 degree nights and hot 120... more >>


November 2012 | Leave a comment

Top 10 Creepiest Critters in the Parks

Jerusalem Cricket

Life is not all river otters and coyote pups. Some organisms in these national parks simply give us the heebie-jeebies—justifiably or not. With Halloween a few days away, here’s our list of the scariest and grossest creatures. For the squeamish, turn away. For the stout-hearted, read on—if you dare.

Find something... more >>


November 2012 | 10 Comments | Leave a comment

Exploding the Myth of the Raptor Peak Week

Exploding the Myth of the Raptor Peak Week

Throughout the 1980s–90s, the GGRO Peak Week—that is, the seven-day stretch that contained the highest hawk count days of the year—truly happened in a week (or roughly a week). In those not-so-ancient times, we recorded highest count days as early as September 15 (569 sightings in 1987) and as late... more >>


September 2012 | 1 Comments | Leave a comment

It's "Awww"gust: Baby Season in the Parks

It's

With cute baby animals out and about, now’s a great time to explore your Golden National Parks. View this slideshow of some of the parks’ budding young stars, and then gather up your own little ones for an “awww”-some park adventure.

You can also view more photos of our parks (and... more >>


August 2012 | 3 Comments | Leave a comment

The Wildlife Wonders of Tennessee Valley

08 The Wildlife Wonders of Tennessee Valley

By Liz Ponzini, Manager of Tennessee Valley Nursery

Many people visit and volunteer in different places in the Golden Gate National Parks for different reasons. If you enjoy military history, you can visit the Nike Missile Site or any number of forts and batteries. If you like watching wind surfers, you... more >>


August 2012 | 2 Comments | Leave a comment

Great Balls of Garter Snakes!

08 Great Balls of Garter Snakes!

“Massing” is a term used to describe a large number of snakes congregating in an area, and is most commonly associated with garter snake mating behavior. Early last month, dog walker Debra Wood came across an extremely rare sight at Calera Creek in Pacifica: coast garter snakes (Thamnophis elegans terrestris)... more >>


August 2012 | Leave a comment

 

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